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PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLINE (II)
( A "Reading" of Your Child )
Apr 1996 Alan S.L. Wong

PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLINE (II)

DISCIPLINE is a major concern for parents. The issue is how do we get our children to behave according to the standards we expect. What if they refuse to conform?

There are many methods of discipline. The effectiveness of discipline methods varies from situation to situation and from child to child. But whatever the discipline methods, there are prerequisites for discipline to be effective. I call these "the 3R's prerequisites"

  1. Relationship of Love
  2. Reading of Your Child
  3. Recognition of Wrongdoing

A "Reading" of Your Child

Spending time with our children not only gives us many opportunities to share and model the values that we treasure but also opportunities to know our children. A "reading" of your child will help you understand what causes your child's misbehaviour and choose the appropriate discipline method to use.

In the quest to understand your child, bear in mind the general characteristics that children in that age group share in common. For example, a two-year-old toddler will not sit still for long. To know what is normal behaviour is to recognise misbehaviour. We need to have realistic expectations of each child's behaviour according to his age and abilities. In other words, let children be children; accept age-group characteristic behaviour but correct misbehaviour.

Next, consider the unique characteristics of your child. If you have more than one child, you will probably testify that your two children are very different from one another. Each child is unique and should be nurtured differently.

When my younger son was about two, he would wake up every morning and cry. If I were to use the behaviour modification approach, I should ignore his crying. But this might lead to more distraught.

I guessed that the reason for his behaviour could be that there was no one else in the room when he woke up and he cried in fear. So every morning I would drop whatever I was doing and rush into the bedroom with a broad smile and a chirpy "Good morning" whenever I heard him arousing from his sleep. I did this over a period of time and his crying stopped.

Is your child misbehaving because he is restless or because he is rebellious? Without discerning, we may use the wrong method of discipline.